RADIO JOCKEYS of the Mann Deshi Tarang Vahini began their first broadcast on November 17, 2008, kicking off the Mann Deshi Foundation’s community radio arm in Mhaswad village of Maan tehsil, Satara.
“In the rural area where we started, people would run away at the sight of a mic. Villagers coming to the studio to present their art was a far-fetched thought,” said Sachin Menkudale, the station’s technician and assistant.
The radio station’s technicians and jockeys are in Mumbai as part of the Mann Deshi Foundation’s annual festival of rural produce and culture, a three-day event currently underway at the Ravindra Natya Mandir in Prabhadevi. The team will make a presentation on their journey on Saturday.
Today, this radio station has completed a decade of nurturing local talent among the village’s women. The radio’s most notable star is Kerabai Sargar (61), a shepherd, who rose to popularity with her morale — lifting poems, bhajans and abhangs. No matter how grim the farmers’ situation gets, she and her gang of woman singers believe in keeping the tone positive. “Even as governments changed, farmers’ issues have remained the same. We don’t see loan waivers being implemented. I just wish to keep my art alive, keep motivating people and prepare other women to take up the mantle after me,” she said.
According to a recent survey by the team, the radio station reaches 109 villages of Maan tehsil and bordering villages of Sangli and Solapur districts, accounting for nearly 1.5 lakh listeners.
The radio station took its first step by playing folk songs in a 10-minute segment. Later, a morning broadcast from 7 am to 9 am was introduced. “After two years, the team felt confident enough to start broadcasting twice a day. We asked women — Do you listen to radio? Do you have problems? Women asked for a show in the afternoon, and we designed a show in that slot,” said Mendukale.
There were about five community radio stations in Maharashtra when this station started. Today, the state has 17 active community radio stations. “People come to us to learn how we sustained for 10 years. We have supported at least 15 NGOs… While it is said that the world is going digital, loadshedding is a constant problem in our area, making people connect to our radio, because every mobile has FM,” Mendukale said.
Five persons have chosen to serve the rural set up — Mendukale, station in-charge Shivaji Yadav, sound recordist Anup Gurav and radio jockeys Lata Tupe and Rohini Gadekar.